Emirates has completed an intensive programme to clear its backlog of refund requests caused by pandemic-related travel disruption. Over the seven-month period from April, Emirates received, validated and processed nearly 1.7 million refund requests. This resulted in the airline returning €1.44 billion refunds to its customers. Of this sum, €1.07 billion was refunded to customers who had booked directly with the airline, and the remainder was returned via travel agencies.
In addition, Emirates managed over 130,000 refunds-related queries from customers and travel agency partners and made status changes to nearly four million flight coupons.
At the peak of its project, Emirates had 110 personnel dedicated to validating and processing refunds, massively increased from the 19-person team pre-pandemic. The airline managed this by internally moving personnel from other functions to assist in this endeavour.
Sir Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline, said: “In the early months of 2020, Covid-19 massively disrupted travel around the world and led to an unprecedented volume of refunds requests across the aviation and travel industry, including at Emirates. It was not a situation any airline wanted, particularly while also facing a cash crunch from drastically reduced operations. Through those difficult months, as we dealt with the impact of the pandemic on our business, we have never lost sight of our commitment to our customers.
“Thanks to the efforts of our refunds and customer service teams, the support and co-operation of our partners, and the understanding of our customers, Emirates has now cleared our backlog of refunds. We still have higher volumes of refunds and flight coupon change requests compared to pre-pandemic times, but we now have the capability to manage these within a seven-day turnaround.
“In addition to honouring refunds, Emirates offered our customers flexibility to travel at a later date, and we also helped our frequent flyers to retain their tier status and introduced other ways for them to earn and burn their Miles. For those of our customers who continued to fly, Emirates offered the industry’s first free global Covid-19 cover for their added peace of mind, we put in place rigorous bio-safety measures on the ground and in the air, and we ensured that information on the latest travel requirements was easily available on our website.”